The Basics of Paraffin Wax:
When most people think of wax, in any form, the wax they generally think of is probably a paraffin wax. It is one of the most plentiful and multi-use waxes used today. A by-product of the crude oil refining process, in its raw form, it is a white, odorless, tasteless, "waxy" solid, with a typical melting point between about 110°F to 150°F, and while it's very inert, it burns really well.
What Kind of Candles Does it Make?:
Pretty much any type of candle can be made with paraffin wax. The melting point is the primary determinant of the type of candle you can make with it.
- Low melt point paraffin (less than 130°F) is used for container candles in jars, cups or glasses
- Medium melt point paraffin (130°F - 150°F) is used for candles that need to stand on their own - votives, pillars and other molded candles
- High melt point wax (greater than 150°F) is used for more special applications like hurricane candle shells, overdipping and other special candle making applications
How It's Generally Packaged or Sold:
While many of us have seen paraffin wax for canning in small boxes in the grocery store (not the best kind for candles), paraffin candle wax is usually sold in 11 lb. slabs. (Why they settled on 11 lbs. I don't know.) There are also a couple of companies that sell paraffin wax in pellet form. This makes weighing it out and melting it super easy!
Suppliers of Paraffin Wax:
Here are some suppliers of candle wax that sell different blends of paraffin wax for candle making:
The Debate Over Paraffin Wax vs. Soy Wax for Candle Making:
If you want to hear some strong opinions expressed, just ask a group of candlemakers which wax is better, soy or paraffin. (See comments and discussion below.) I (personally) like both waxes, and think they both have their benefits. I like the "natural" qualities of soy wax...and don't believe the accusations that paraffin is an evil toxic substance. As you'll see from the National Candle Association
facts below, the most important thing is that you use a high-quality wax, in a well-made candle.
Candle Wax Facts from the National Candle Association:
From the National Candle Assoc.
- All waxes are primarily hydrocarbons, whether of animal, vegetable, or petroleum origin. The chemical composition of all candlemaking waxes is similar, and all candle waxes burn in the same manner.
- No specific type of wax or wax blend is considered "best" for candlemaking. All waxes - when provided in high-quality format - have been shown to burn cleanly, safely and in the same manner.
- No candle wax has ever been shown to be toxic or harmful to human health.
- There is no such thing as a soot-free wax.